One leg, two legs

Science with a twist

Play this balancing game to show your children that objects are more stable when they have a wide base of support.

Discussion point: We can place our confidence in God – a firm foundation for our lives.

You will need a safe, open space where each child can stand (and perhaps fall) without bumping into others, and also a backpack for each child that’s filled with a heavy load of books, rocks or cans.

You can do this activity at home in your yard, or indoors. Another ideal location for this activity is an outdoor park. As you drive home afterwards, you’ll have a captive audience for your discussion.

See the end note for an indoor alternative using building blocks.

When you’re ready to begin, your role is to call out instructions for various balancing challenges. Some will be difficult, and the children are likely to fail.

(If your kids are the type to fall over on purpose during the balance challenges, create a simple reward system. For example, one extra minute of storytime or one candy for each successful balance challenge.)

Begin by having your children stand on both legs. Call out the following instructions:

  1. Can you raise your arms over your head?
  2. Okay, now clap your hands together.
  3. Can you put one arm out to the side?
  4. Now lean forward and flap your arms as if you are a bird!
  5. Fly faster! There is a bigger bird chasing you now!
  6. Next, can I see you jump up and down?
  7. Can you jump up and down and flap?
  8. Can you jump up and down and flap and lean forward?
  9. For your next challenge, pick up your backpack. Can you hold it directly out in front of you with your arms straight?
  10. Now try to hold your backpack out to the side, using only one arm.
  11. See if you can keep holding your backpack there after you close your eyes.

If you wish to up the ante, here are more ideas to make the balance challenges even more difficult. (Choose only those that are appropriate for your children’s ages and abilities.)

  • Repeat the instructions with your children standing only on one leg.
  • Repeat the instructions with the children standing on tip-toes (on two legs or just one leg.)
  • Repeat the instructions with your children standing on a ground-level balance beam (for example, a wooden railway sleeper bordering a sand box).

For extra fun, let your children try to push you over while you’re:

  • down on “all fours” on the ground
  • standing on both feet
  • balancing on one leg
  • standing on your tippy toes.
Questions for discussion
  1. Was it harder to balance on two feet, or on one foot?
  2. Was it harder to balance on flat feet or on tippy toes?
  3. Was it harder to push me over when I was on “four feet,” two feet, or on my tippy toes?
  4. If you were standing in a windstorm, which position would be most stable?
  5. Why do you think that is?
  6. How big is God?
  7. How strong is God?
  8. How big are we?
  9. How strong are we?
Key concepts

God is big and He provides a firm foundation, just like a wide base of support does. In comparison, we are tiny, like a small base of support that can easily be toppled. If we base our confidence on ourselves, we are likely to “topple and fail” time and time again. However, when we place our confidence in God, we have a much firmer foundation to build our lives on and we will be much less easily swayed by forces around us.

Indoor alternative: Have your children experiment by building towers from blocks – towers with both wide and narrow bases. Once the towers have been built, test them to see how well they withstand various forces: wind (blow air), vibrations (shake the table) and even a “wrecking ball” (a tennis ball tied to the end of a string or slid down into the toe of a stocking).

Relevant Scripture

Psalm 59:16-17 “But I will sing of Your strength, in the morning I will sing of Your love; for You are my fortress, my refuge in times of trouble. You are my strength, I sing praise to You; You, God, are my fortress, my God on whom I can rely.”

Jeremiah 17:7-8 “But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

Isaiah 31:1 “Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, who rely on horses, who trust in the multitude of their chariots and in the great strength of their horsemen, but do not look to the Holy One of Israel, or seek help from the Lord.”